Is Upcircle Cruelty-Free and Vegan? (We Can’t Believe Our Eyes)

October 31, 2022

By-product beauty pioneers UpCircle hit the skincare scene with coffee scrubs for face and body that got rave reviews. Does this sustainability-forward brand make our wildest dreams come true by being cruelty-free and vegan?

UpCircle is cruelty-free. It doesn't conduct animal testing on its products, nor does it distribute its cosmetics where animal testing is required by law. UpCircle is also 100% vegan – it doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients.

UpCircle was founded in September 2016 when two UK siblings realized how many skincare products (and their plastic packaging) went to landfills. They aimed to create a circular brand that was better for your skin and the planet.

UpCircle started by finding a by-product in London that was readily available with no sign of supply slowing down - coffee grounds from local cafes.

Just like that – the brand was crowdfunded in just 3 days and exceeded its target by £17, 000.

UpCircle has expanded its product range, undergone a re-brand, made a TV appearance on Dragons Den (and won), and gone global in 6 years.


But how does such a simple brand prioritize cruelty-free policies and veganism?

Our Cruelty-Free Beauty Standards: UpCircle

Cruelty-free: Yes

Vegan: Yes

Clean ingredients: Yes

Sustainable & Ethical: Yes

Mica Mining Policy: Does not use Mica in any formulations.  

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: Does not use palm oil in any formulations

Is UpCircle Cruelty-Free and Vegan?

Upcircle Skincare cruelty-free and vegan beauty

UpCircle is Cruelty-Free

Test any of its products or ingredients on animals


Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain


Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.


UpCircle is Leaping Bunny certified and privately owned! It is the product of crowdfunding and investments from the Dragon’s Den business funds as capital.

This brings us to our next point:

UpCircle is Vegan

UpCircle is dedicated to closing the loop is entirely vegan. It does not use any animal-derived ingredients in any of its products.

However, it's worth knowing that UpCircle is the exception, not the rule.

Most mainstream skincare brands are not 100% vegan. Some animal-derived ingredients to look out for in general include honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, carmine, and squalane.

If you're interested in the best UpCircle vegan products or finding brand alternatives – keep reading or click on this link: UpCircle vegan products.

Animal Testing Policy and History

UpCircle has been committed to creating clean, effective, and affordable cosmetics that are also cruelty-free. This has been its intention since it was founded.

Cruelty-Free Status in 2022

Here is a screenshot of UpCircle’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:

Upcircle Cruelty-Free Website Statement


UpCircle is Leaping Bunny certified.

While you might know PETA very well – it surprisingly doesn’t hold the strictest cruelty-free regulations. It only requires a brand’s written consent that abides by the PETA code of conduct.

Certification from Leaping Bunny is ideal because it holds rigorous standards and does regular audits to ensure they are upheld.

Is UpCircle Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law? 

UpCircle does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.

China conducts the most animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used annually.

If you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies – please know that there are a couple of loopholes.

Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

What UpCircle Products Are Vegan?

UpCircle is entirely vegan and has raving reviews. It’s one of the few products that prides itself in developing a product with you (the consumer) and the planet in mind.

To save you some time, here are some of its most popular skincare products:

  • Eye Cream with Hyaluronic Acid and Coffee
  • Organic Face Serum with Coffee Oil
  • Face Moisturizer with Vitamin E
  • Face Toner with Hyaluronic Acid
  • Night Cream with Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide

You can find all of UpCircle’s vegan products on its website.

Vegan Alternatives to UpCircle

We love what UpCircle represents.

It's 100% cruelty-free, vegan, environmentally friendly, and users claim it to be effective.

But if the brand is not easily accessible to you, here are some other options to choose from:


price range

100% vegan


Loli Beauty

$12 - $60




$20 - $50



$20 - $50


Leaping Bunny

$30 - $80


PETA, Leaping Bunny

$20 - $70


PETA, Leaping Bunny

Is UpCircle Natural and Organic? 

UpCircle is a natural and organic brand.

The term "organic" is regulated by the USDA. It means an ingredient is free of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or non-organic substances.

UpCircle has the COSMOS approval to back up this claim.

One of the most interesting naturally-derived ingredients that UpCircle uses is Arabica coffee grounds sourced from London shops.

This ingredient is used as an exfoliator in UpCircle’s Face and Body Scrubs. Coffee Oil is used in skincare because its fatty acids help build elastin and collagen to tone and tighten skin. 

Does UpCircle Use Safe Ingredients?

According to Skin Safe, UpCircle has a 91% allergen-free ranking for each product.

UpCircle never used SLS, SLEs, parabens, mineral oil, parfum, or sulfates in its products.

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

You HAVE to read up on any product’s ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live in the United States. The reason why will shock you.

The FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the country. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Luckily, UpCircle sets a great example of what true clean beauty is meant to be. You shouldn’t have to worry about any serious hidden nasties in its products.

Are Cruelty-Free Ingredients Safe?

There is no reason why cruelty-free products shouldn’t be as safe as anything tested on animals.

Not only is it easy to test ingredients without using animals altogether, but there are so many pre-approved ingredients you can use to make cosmetics that there is no need.

If you’re interested, here’s more on the subject: Are Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Safe?

Is UpCircle Sustainable and Ethical? 

Something commendable about UpCircle is that it wants to be transparent with its customers.

It spends a lot of time improving its carbon footprint and ensuring its consumers are kept in the loop.

As it stands, the brand:

  • Helps create sustainable, ethically developed products.
  • Focuses on lessening the impact it has on the planet.
  • Strives to do more to help people.

Some of the ethical causes UpCircle supports are domestic violence, wildlife conservation, female empowerment, front-line workers, and social inequality.

The brand also:

  • Develops natural formulas that are kinder to the environment by using by-products.
  • Makes 100% recyclable product packaging and encourages consumers to recycle their products.
  • Avoids extra packaging and only uses sustainable or recycled materials (paper) when needed.
  • Develops refillable, long-lasting packaging and has a fill scheme for 90% of products (only soap bars are excluded).
  • Prohibits synthetic microbeads, MICA or Palm Oil.
  • Is certified as Plastic-Negative and pays waste workers’ wages in Goa, India, in collaboration with rePurpose Global.
  • Uses sustainably sourced paper (FSC certified) to create its outer packaging.
  • Makes marketing materials from recycled coffee cups and uses paper tape from recycled fibers.
  • Creates lifestyle products like ‘tube squeezers’ to help customers reduce their daily waste.
  • Uses COSMOS-approved ingredients to meet a high standard to ensure products are natural and organic.

Final Thoughts

Seriously, what’s not to love with UpCircle?

We’ve often written about brands that can only do so much, change is slow but worth it, and every effort is valid.

Then here’s a well-developed skin and personal care brand that is entirely circular, natural, organic, vegan, and meets HIGH sustainability standards.

They are cruelty-free and closer to developing a more sustainable future in cosmetics.

We appreciate that it has a transparent supply chain and is open to the public about its testing, purchasing, and distribution policies.

The brand stays ethical by eliminating MICA and Palm Oil entirely. UpCircle supports multiple causes and charities – it shows what businesses can do when they put their minds to it!

There may be areas where UpCircle can improve, but its standards and achievements are astounding for a brand founded in 2016. 

This young brand is developing and listening to your needs, so keep following its movements.

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